‘His mother is devastated’: Family of teen who fell to his death from US military plane speak out

·3-min read
Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane, some climbing on the plane, as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan (AP)
Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane, some climbing on the plane, as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan (AP)

The family of a teenager to fell to his death after trying to cling onto a US C-17 military aircraft leaving Afghanistan have spoken out for the first time.

The 17-year-old, known only as Reza, travelled to Kabul airport on Monday with his brother Kabeer in the hope of escaping the Taliban.

The brothers were hopeful of getting on a plane after hearing a rumour that 20,000 Afghans would be relocated to Canada or the US, according to Vice Media. 

Reza was among the dozens of Afghans seen desperately clinging to the side of a US plane.

Tragically, his death was caught on video along with two other stowaways who were seen falling from the engines of aircraft as it took off. 

A family member told Vice World News that the 17-year-old body of Reza was found without his hand and legs. They also revealed that Kabeer was still missing.

“We hope to find him dead or alive so it will console our family,” said the family member, referring to Kabeer. 

“We are worried, and we went from one hospital to another, but we didn’t get any information.”

They added that the boys’ mother was so devastated that she passes out “every now and then.”

“Everyone is trying to run away,” the family member said. “It is in fear of the Taliban, they are killing people. They have all left to the airport from lack of jobs and opportunity. They want to go abroad.”

The brothers are the eldest of eight siblings and are part of a young generation of Afghans who have never experienced life under Taliban rule.

Flag-waving protesters took to the streets of more Afghan cities on Thursday as popular opposition to the Taliban spread, and a witness said several people were killed when the militants fired on a crowd in Asadabad in the east.

“Our flag, our identity,” a crowd of men and women waving black, red and green national flags shouted in the capital Kabul, a video clip posted on social media showed, on the day Afghanistan celebrates independence from British control in 1919.

A witness reported gunshots fired near the rally, but they appeared to be armed Taliban shooting in the air.

One woman walked with an Afghan flag wrapped around her shoulders, and those marching chanted “God is greatest”. At some protests elsewhere, media has reported people tearing down the white flag of the Taliban.

A Taliban spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Some of the demonstrations are small, but, combined with the ongoing scramble by thousands of people to get to Kabul airport and flee the country, they underline the challenge the Taliban face to govern the country.

The Islamist militant movement conquered Afghanistan in lightning speed as foreign troops withdrew, surprising even its leaders and leaving them to fill a power vacuum in many places.

Since seizing Kabul on Sunday, the Taliban have presented a more moderate face to the world, saying they want peace, will not take revenge against old enemies and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

During their previous rule from 1996-2001, they severely restricted women’s rights, staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues.

Watch: Footage appears to show people clinging to side of US plane amid chaos at Kabul airport

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